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This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Darwinist trolls' straw-man pseudosciences


Darwinist trolls are fond of making straw-man attacks on criticisms of evolution by likening those criticisms to obvious pseudsciences. Among the pseudosciences most frequently used in these attacks are: (1) flat-earth theory; (2) astrology; (3) alchemy; and (4) geocentrism. One of them, the flat-earth theory, never really existed as a serious theory since at least the 3rd century B.C., and two others, astrology and alchemy, apparently never were in a major historical conflict with real science. Of these four pseudosciences, apparently only one -- geocentrism -- ever seriously challenged real science. I call these pseudosciences "straw men" because trolls shamelessly and frivolously introduce them into debates over evolution strictly because these pseudosciences are easy to knock down and not because they are really comparable to criticisms of evolution. I assert that no serious debater would introduce any of these pseudosciences into the debate and I can't recall ever seeing any leading evolutionist introduce any of these pseudosciences into the debate. I will examine each of these four pseudosciences here.

FLAT-EARTH THEORY

The flat-earth theory is the great-granddaddy of the pseudosciences used in the straw-man attacks on criticisms of evolution. It is probably the only such pseudoscience that was promoted expressly for the purpose of attacking those criticisms. It is probably also the only such pseudoscience that was never widely accepted among educated people since ancient times.

A historian at the Univ. of Calif. - Santa Barbara said [link],
.
It must first be reiterated that with extraordinary few exceptions no educated person in the history of Western Civilization from the third century B.C. onward believed that the earth was flat . . . (emphasis in original)

The reason for promoting both the specific lie about the sphericity of the earth and the general lie that religion and science are in natural and eternal conflict in Western society, is to defend Darwinism. The answer is really only slightly more complicated than that bald statement.

I remember being taught in elementary school that Columbus's crewmen threatened to mutiny because they were afraid that they would sail off the edge of the earth but that Columbus just bravely told them, "sail on."

Since the flat-earth theory was never widely accepted by Christian scholars, the question of whether the bible supports the theory is moot. However, it is noteworthy that nothing in the bible expressly says that the earth is flat -- a flat earth is only at most suggested by some verses in the bible, e.g., [link],

. . . .the essential flatness of the earth's surface is required by verses like Daniel 4:10-11. In Daniel, the king "saw a tree of great height at the centre of the earth ... reaching with its top to the sky and visible to the earth's farthest bounds." If the earth were flat, a sufficiently tall tree would be visible to "the earth's farthest bounds," but this is impossible on a spherical earth. Likewise, in describing the temptation of Jesus by Satan, Matthew 4:8 says, "Once again, the devil took him to a very high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world (cosmos) in their glory." Obviously, this would be possible only if the earth were flat. The same is true of Revelation 1:7: "Behold, he is coming with the clouds! Every eye shall see him..."


But the above verses of the bible would not suggest a belief in a flat earth if the ancients believed that all of the kingdoms or all of the earth's land area covered only a comparatively small part of the earth's surface or at most just one hemisphere.

Considering the embarrassing history of the flat-earth theory, one would think that the Darwinist trolls would avoid citing the theory as a straw-man pseudoscience, but this theory happens to be one of the Darwiniist trolls' favorite straw men.

ASTROLOGY

To my knowledge, astrology has never been in conflict with astronomical science. Astrology is the idea that the apparent motions and relative positions of celestial objects in the sky determine or influence events on earth and can be used to predict the future. Astrology might be based on the false idea that celestial objects exist in 2-dimensional rather than 3-dimensional space, but astrology has continued despite our awareness that celestial objects exist in 3-dimensional space. Astrology's predictions are obviously falsifiable. Astrology has made important contributions to modern astronomy through (1) the naming of constellations in astronomical maps and (2) the astronomical symbols for celestial objects.

ALCHEMY

The best known goal of the alchemists was to transmute base metals into gold and silver. A lesser known goal of the alchemists was to discover an elixir for perpetual youth. We now know that alchemy is pseudoscientific, but I don't know of any historical instance where there was a conflict between alchemy and real science. Today the alchemists' goal to transmute elements has been achieved by means of nuclear fission, fusion, and radioactive decay, though this goal has not been completely achieved in a way that the alchemists would have preferred.

GEOCENTRISM

Of the four pseudosciences that I mentioned, this is the only one that historically was ever in a major conflict with real science, and that real science in the conflict with geocentrism was heliocentrism. The Catholic church's persecution of heliocentrists -- notably Galileo -- is well-known. Geocentrism is expressly and implicitly supported by some verses in the bible, e.g.[link] --

I Chronicles 16:30: "He has fixed the earth firm, immovable."

Psalm 93:1: "Thou hast fixed the earth immovable and firm..."

Psalm 96:10: "He has fixed the earth firm, immovable..."

Psalm 104:5: "Thou didst fix the earth on its foundation so that it never can be shaken."

Isaiah 45:18: "...who made the earth and fashioned it, and himself fixed it fast..."

BTW, the above verses were cited in attempted support of the notion that the bible supports the flat-earth theory, but the above verses do not really support the flat-earth theory but only support geocentrism.

Geocentrism is sometimes called the "Ptolemaic" system or model, named for Ptolemy, an ancient Greek living in Egypt under the Roman Empire. The Ptolemaic system is based on ancient science rather than on religious sources.
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6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You left out one pseudoscience. No truly educated person today believes in Creationism.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>>> You left out one pseudoscience. No truly educated person today believes in Creationism. <<<<<<

Would you say that no truly educated person today believes in the gospel? Both the gospel and the bible's creation story involve the supernatural. If one does not believe in the supernatural, then why should one believe in the gospel? The hypocritical, holier-than-thou Darwinist cafeteria Christians brag that they believe in the gospel but not in the creation story. And the creation story is at least fairly straightforward whereas the gospel is full of illogic, inconsistencies, ambiguities, and unintelligibility.

Yes, I did omit creationism -- biblical creationism, that is -- from the list. Both the Darwinists and the fundies use biblical creationism to attack scientific and pseudoscientific criticisms of evolution. The Darwinists claim that all criticisms of evolution are just biblical creationism. Some fundies say that it is blasphemous to imply that god's word needs or could use scientific support.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 12:33:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

On second thought, biblical creationism is not really a pseudoscience, because it does not pretend to be science. So I was not wrong to omit it from that list of pseudosciences after all. However, it could still be added to a general list of straw men used to attack scientific and pseudoscientific criticisms of evolution.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger Jim Sherwood said...

While I'm not a creationist of any variety, I do know that there are plenty of "truly educated" persons who believe in creationism; and sometimes in young-earth creationism, at that.

Kurt Wise, for instance, received a Ph.D in invertebrate paleontology from Harvard in 1989. Evidently he was "truly educated:" or at least his professors, including the "noted evolutionary biologist" Stephen Jay Gould, thought so. So I'm willing to take Gould's word for it.

Certainly Wise knows a lot more about biology and paleontology than do the commenters who attack this blog. And he's a young-earth creationist.

Gould evidently did no more than to mildly tell Wise, "You know I think you're wrong." I believe that's a correct quote.

I'm not certain why Wise, and such other highly educated people as Paul Nelson, believe in young- earth creationism. But they must think that they have good reasons for their belief.

And I'm not certain either why any well-educated person still devoutly believes in Darwinism, which has been criticized vehemently and at length by quite a few great scientists, including Pierre Grasse and Fred Hoyle?

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 5:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

> On second thought, biblical creationism is not really a pseudoscience, because it does not pretend to be science. <

So if it is not a science, why do you insist that it be included in science classes? It seems that you need to take one side or the other on this.

Thursday, May 07, 2009 7:28:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> So if it is not a science, why do you insist that it be included in science classes? <<<<<<

Do you know what "insist" means? How do I have the power to "insist" than anything be included in science classes?

And what do you mean by "included"? If you mean actually teaching biblical creationism in the public schools as true, I have never proposed or suggested that. However, I think it is OK to briefly discuss it in science classes for the purpose of comparison if it is not presented as necessarily true -- for example, a comparison could be made of the chronological order of species' appearance in the bible and in evolution. BTW, I just learned that Genesis 2 is sometimes interpreted as saying that some kinds of animals were created after man was created, but IMO this is not the correct interpretation of Genesis 2.

Thursday, May 07, 2009 9:36:00 AM  

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